CEPF ready to roll out grants in the Indo-Burma region

27 March 2014 | Article

Following the announcement of the second phase of CEPF support of Indo-Burma biodiversity hot-spot and review of proposals, new grants are now in process to be awarded. 

The Indo-Burma region (made up of Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and parts of southern China) is widely recognized as being of global importance for biodiversity. Also known as the Indo-Burma "Hotspot", the region is home to some of the world's most threatened primates (such as the Cat Ba langur, and Tonkin snub-nosed monkey), enigmatic ungulates (most notably the Saola), and provides the wintering grounds for globally threatened migratory birds such as the spoon-billed sandpiper. The 2012 report "The Status and Distribution of Freshwater Biodiversity in Indo-Burma", produced by the IUCN and Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), confirmed that the fish fauna of the region is one of the richest in the world.

Despite its significance, the biodiversity of this region is also one of the most threatened in the world. Huge social and political changes since the 20th century have led to rapid human population growth and economic development in the region. The rapid expansion of agricultural land into previously forested areas, un-checked infrastructure development, unsustainable natural resource exploitation, including illegal trade of wildlife parts and products are some of the issues facing the region. Lack of resources and incentives for effective law enforcement and good governance at the local level, have created a situation where the future for much of the region's biodiversity hangs in the balance.

However, there is also cause for cautious optimism. Across the region, the political space for civil society organizations to operate is generally growing, and in many countries environmental issues are being covered in high profile by domestic media. There is an increasing recognition of the role that biodiversity and healthy ecosystems play in sustaining human wellbeing. At the same time, international and domestic pressure is slowly helping to ensure that governments in the region incorporate biodiversity and environmental sustainability into development planning.

Since July 2013, IUCN (with partners the Myanmar Environment Rehabilitation-conservation Network (MERN) and Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG)) has been leading the CEPF Regional Implementation Team (RIT) in Indo-Burma. CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank, which has a fundamental goal of ensuring civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. This current phase of investment by CEPF in Indo-Burma will continue until 2018. For more information, please see the CEPF website, and the IUCN website.

To date, CEPF Secretariat and IUCN have issued calls for proposals in all six countries of the hotspot, reviewed over 330 applications, and are in the process of awarding approximately 70 grants - both small grants (up to $20,000) and large grants (over $20,000, and typically less than $250,000), to both international NGOs and local groups. In addition to funding work with a strong focus on biodiversity conservation, the grants will also support the strengthening of domestic civil society.

The next call for proposals for CEPF grants in Indo-Burma Hotspots will be issued in August 2014.